Divergent, the latest in dystopian-teen-literature-turned-film-franchise, opened this weekend, and while it’s no Catching Fire, I would highly recommend seeing it and taking every young (and old) girl and boy you know. Set in an ambiguous future where people are separated into factions based on traits (honesty, selflessness, bravery, knowledge and kindness), Divergent focuses on 16 year old Tris, who’s inability to fit into one single faction makes her a threat to the government. Constantly compared to The Hunger Games series, it’s undeniable that the two share a lot in common, probably making a lot of people want to skip out on the Divergent craze entirely. But trust me, if you see the movie and aren’t struck by the intense fight scenes, Shailene Woodley’s performance, or Theo James’ face, you will remember one small but very important scene that I think everyone should see.
Tris, who chooses to join the “brave” faction known as Dauntless, has to pass a series of tests in order to complete initiation and join the Dauntless for life. Without giving too much away, one of these tests involves taking a serum that forces you to combat your fears, and allows the people around you to look inside your mind. Tris’ more insignificant fears involve being attacked by birds and being trapped in a glass case filled with water. But her deepest fear is of intimacy with her new boyfriend Four. Though Four and Tris have a good relationship in real life, she that Four will take advantage of her and force her to go too far without her consent. Under the serum, Tris manages to escape by physically fighting back, and when she awakes she is greeted with applause and Four’s acceptance. Yes, it was just a simulation, but the message is clear: Tris can defend herself against an attacker that she knows and loves, and people will be proud of her. It’s a small scene altogether, but the most important in the film, and will probably be the most important in its following two sequels.
A scene like this is featured in no other film in this genre. It goes without saying that Twilight portrays nearly the exact opposite, with Bella completely helpless around Edward- maybe they were in love, but who wants a heroine who physically can’t control herself around her boyfriend? And I’m completely Team Katniss, but half of The Hunger Games features Katniss forcing herself to get close to Peeta and act out the “star crossed lovers” bit so that she gets sponsors and becomes a fan favorite. It’s a survival tactic, no doubt about it, but when you really think about it, it’s pretty gross that either of them had to experience that. Divergent is a completely new outlook on this situation. Four isn’t a hero for respecting Tris’ wishes, but is just an example for how all boys should act. It’s not revolutionary, and maybe Divergent isn’t the next huge hit, but if it should be remembered for anything, it should be for this. You can be a badass heroine, and get the guy, and still feel safe about it. It’s your choice, and it’s a choice I’m happy to see portrayed on the big screen. Well done.